If you have been in recovery for a while and are an active member of your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, you may have no problem sharing your story with other members. This is something that is encouraged but not compulsory at fellowship meetings and it is hugely helpful in terms of healing. Research has found that those who share their experiences and stories with others are more likely to stay motivated to remain sober. However, if you are asked to give a talk at a meeting would you be able to?
Dealing with nerves
Most of the people who stand up and talk at your meetings will feel nervous beforehand. They will endure a rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms. They may have a nervous, sick feeling in the pit of their stomach. Nevertheless, most of the people sitting in the room and listening to them talk would never be aware of this.
It is normal to feel nervous before standing up and talking in front of others. However, most of those who stand up and talk will find that it is not as traumatic as they were expecting. In fact, many find that they have much more to say than they thought they would. Being in an environment where you feel comfortable and facing a crowd that is encouraging and attentive can make it much easier to stand up and talk.
The main reason for giving a talk is to help yourself and, by doing so, help others. Your story is one that you will be an expert on; it is all about your life. You do not have to worry about researching anything because all you have to do is tell your story in your own words. You do not have to try to make your story more interesting, and there is no need for exaggerating. Your story will be interesting enough just because of what you have been through and the fact that you have come out the other side stronger.
Planning your talk
It is important that you focus on your achievements rather than playing yourself as a victim. When planning your talk, a good place to start is with what your life was like before you decided to get help. You can then talk about what happened to make you realise you had a problem and that you needed help. After that, talk about your life now and how different it is now that you are sober.
It is a good idea to speak about how you have used the 12-steps to overcome your addiction and how it has helped you. Your talk should inspire other members to keep working hard to get to the point where you are at now.
Before you give your talk at the meeting, you should practice it in front of a loved one or friend. You may want to write your story down or just write a few notes to keep you on track. This is something that you can decide on; it is different for everyone.
Remember that you are bound to feel nervous leading up to the talk but also bear in mind that once you have given your talk, you will feel great. You may find that after the first talk you are keen to give another. Some people find that they enjoy the experience so much that they are eager to talk at other meetings.
Not everyone likes to speak in front of other people, however. Some will do so when necessary but will avoid it if they can. If you genuinely do not feel comfortable talking in front of others, then this is perfectly fine and remember you are not alone – many people also feel this way.